Portrait of a Song is a new series where the music makers explain how a particular song of theirs evolved. The inaugural portrait comes from Richard Murphy of Dublin band Michael Knight who discusses the title track from his bands second album. The track reminds me so much of December, a lavish production saddled with an overwhelming air of glorious sadness. KD
Richard Murphy: “Not being renowned among my friends for any conciseness when talking about myself, or my art (which, being the same thing, but disguised as a more legitimate subject, is an even greater danger), I fear mp3hugger didn’t know what asking me to write about my own song entailed. Well, I’ll try my best to be decorous. It’s hard to give an accurate description of something one is so close to, so I’ll content myself to point out what to me are the interesting things, which will almost certainly tell you nothing about what it sounds like in general, but then that’s why this is being written on an mp3 blog, and the reader is expected to do some work too you know.
Lyrically, the song was designed as a variously bitter/bemused/amused lament of a person whose life hasn’t turned out quite how they’d intended. The title was chosen to accentuate the mix of confusion and vague humour, and to deflect interpretations of intent from any sort of social commentary. The lyrics are counterpointed with a triumphant mix of horns, strings, pianos and organs – something I thought could fit comfortably on Songs of Praise – which I thought, opposing the laconic mood of the lyrics, would further capture the narrator’s sneering bitterness. The real tune to listen to in the verse is in the brass, and in the chorus the piano/brass, as the vocal line had to be monotonous rather than melodic. Being a musical nerd, my favourite part of the song is the 4th quarter of each verse, a more emphatic version of the 3rd – the 2nd last chord of the verse always strikes me as being particularly delicious on that front. This is not the 1st time I’ve sacrificed sense to pointlessly complete a sequence that arose accidentally.”